Greenhouse Effect and its Role in Global Warming

In environmental science the green house effect is a common term for the role water vapor; carbon dioxide and ozone play in keeping the earths surface warmer than it would normally be. The atmosphere is primarily transparent to infrared radiation from the sun, which is mostly absorbed by the earths surface. The earth being much cooler than the sun, remits radiation most strongly at infrared wavelengths. Water vapor, carbon dioxide and ozone then absorb much of this radiation and remit a large proportion back towards the earth. The atmosphere thus acts as a kind of blanket: without its presents the earths average ground temperature of 15 degrees Celsius would fall to - 28 degrees Celsius. The termed greenhouse effect implies that a comparable effect keeps the interior of the green house warm. Actually, the man role of the glass in a green house is to prevent convection currents from mixing cooler air outside with the warmer air inside.

Although water is the most important factor in the greenhouse effect, is a major reason why human regions experience less cooling at night than do dry regions. Changes in both water and carbon dioxide play an important role in climate changes. For this reason many scientist have expressed concerns over the global increase of carbon dioxide in resent decades, largely as a result of the burring of fossil fuels. In many other factors of the earths present climate remain more or less constant, the carbon dioxide increase should raise the average temperature at the earths surface. Because warm air can contain warm water before reaching saturation than cooler air can, the amount of water would probably increase as the atmosphere got warmer. This process could go on forever. Although this considered unlikely many negative feed backs could as so occur, such as increase in cloud cover or increase carbon dioxide absorption by the oceans, the results of even a limited rise in average surface temperature remains sufficiently dramatic to justify concern.

In October 1983 the US Environmental Protection Agency released a report that projected the irreversible onset of the greenhouse effect by the 1990s. Shortly there after the National Academy of Sciences issued its own report, in which the matter of irreversibility remain more in question. Both reports, however, strongly indicated the need for measures to check the rise in carbon dioxide.

No matter what term you use global warming or greenhouse effect, they both play a major role in the earths climate. Climate researchers are attempting to predict, based on ocean and air circulation, how great an increase there will be. If global warming continues then the polar ice caps will melt and most of the earth will be flooded and a lot of lives will be lost. The Ozone is located in the stratosphere, approximately 10 km - 50 km above the earth. The density of ozone gas at zero degrees Celsius is 1 ATM.

The Ozone is relatively unstable form of molecular oxygen containing three oxygen atoms (O). Radiation from the sun continuously bombards the Earths atmosphere, causing molecules to break apart into component elements that form into new chemical compounds. Ozone is produced when upper-atmosphere oxygen molecules (O) are broken apart by ultra-violet light. Most of the freed oxygen atoms immediately bond with nearby oxygen molecules to form ozone (O+ 0 =O). The only method used to make commercially is to pass gaseous oxygen or air through a high voltage alternating-current electric discharge called a silent electric discharge. Ozone near the earths surface is generally regarded to as a bad. It is created from industrial, transportation, and some natural sources. It is the most noxious component of smog. All high concentration, O is known to reduce human lung capacity, as well as damage the cells of many plants, animals, and other organisms. For these reasons, ozone is treated as and air pollutant in most industrial countries. Furthermore, o in the upper troposphere is a powerful greenhouse gas and is believed to play a role in global warming.

On the other hand, ozone in the stratosphere is highly valued. It serves as a protective radiation shield that interprets solar ultraviolet light harmful to living things. Ultraviolet light splits the relatively unstable O molecules into O and atomic O. Most of the time, the O atom created by Ozone breakup recombines with one of the plentiful O molecules to re-form 0. This Ozone-creation process is constantly at work producing more ozone. Scientist cant predict with certainly the consequences for life on the earth if the stratosphere ozone layer weakens. In general, biologists and health professionals recognize that life on earth enveloped under the protection of an ozone layer thick enough to remove much of the UV-B solar radiation known to damage cellular organisms. Accordingly, various organisms--including humans-- may have difficult adjusting to the higher UV-B levels resulting from a thinner ozone Layer.

Medical studies have quantified some of the expected effects of increased UV-B levels, based on real-life information form people exposed to greater than average UV-B levels--populations living at high altitudes and in the tropics, where the average ozone layer is thinner and the sunlight more direct. The most serious medical effects include increased incidence of cataracts and skin cancer, as well as evidence of weakened immune system response. Ecological research indicated that some crop yields will decrease and disruption in marine food chains may occur.

A weakened ozone layer may also case climatological effects. The stratosphere warms with altitude because the splitting of stratospheric ozone is caused by ultraviolet photons, which contain much more energy than that required to break the O-O bond. This extra energy is converted to heat. Less stratospheric ozone means less local heating, but it also means that more UV light is transmitted to heat the lower atmosphere and the earths surface. Ozone can be destroyed by chemicals that react directly with it, or by those that react with the oxygen atom temporarily freed whenever an o molecule breaks apart. However, since ozone concentrations are higher than those of most reactive chemicals in the stratosphere, the only ozone destroyers of concern are those that can participate in a catalytic cycle that is, where one trace catalytic chemical can be responsible for destroying terns or even hundreds of thousands of ozone molecules.